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8 Feb, 2021 17:52

Germany, Poland, & Sweden expel Russian diplomats in reciprocal move after EU officials accused of meddling in Moscow's affairs

Germany, Poland, & Sweden expel Russian diplomats in reciprocal move after EU officials accused of meddling in Moscow's affairs

Berlin, Warsaw, and Stockholm have each declared one Russian diplomat persona non grata in a coordinated response to Moscow revoking the credentials of their embassy staff over supposed participation in illegal opposition rallies.

In statements, both Germany and Poland criticized Russia’s decision as “groundless” and “in no way justified,” while calling their own actions a “response” to that move. Berlin said that the diplomat who attended protests in support of jailed activist Alexey Navalny was merely “observing developments in Russia by lawful means.”

Warsaw also said that all three diplomatic officers were “wrongfully considered personae non gratae,” while Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde limited herself to saying that a “person from the Russian embassy is asked to leave Sweden.” She also called the move a “clear response to the unacceptable decision to expel a Swedish diplomat who was only performing his duties.”

Germany expelled a staff member from the Russian Embassy in Berlin, while Poland demanded that an employee of the Russian Consulate General in Poznan leave its territory. The identity of the Russian diplomat expelled by Sweden was not revealed.
Moscow, in turn, called the actions of the three European Union states “unjustified.”

Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry made formal protests to the embassies of Germany, Poland, and Sweden over the actions of their diplomats. The officials in question were said to have participated in the illegal demonstrations in support of Navalny.

The opposition figure was arrested and sentenced to around two and a half years in jail for violating the terms of his previous three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence on embezzlement charges. His arrest in January sparked a wave of protests that saw thousands of people taking to the streets to demand his release.

Also on rt.com Russia expels diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden for alleged participation in pro-Navalny protests

The Russian Foreign Ministry considered the participation of foreign diplomats in such protests an example of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. Moscow’s decision came at a time when the EU’s Josep Borrell, the union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, was visiting Russia.

Borrell, who praised Russia’s development of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and played down talk of sanctions over the Navalny case while in Moscow, made a sudden U-turn upon returning to Brussels and declared that “Europe (sic) and Russia are drifting apart.” He also blamed Russia for supposedly failing to “seize this opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue.”

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